Palo Alto set to break ground on El Camino Park

City prepares to install new lights, synthetic turf at small but busy park

The long-awaited reconstruction of the small but busy El Camino Park is finally set to kick off next month after the City Council signed off on more than $5 million in contracts to pay for a host of park amenities.

The council approved on Dec. 15 a pair of construction contracts with Goodland Landscape Construction, Inc. for a project that has been in planning limbo since October 2011 when the park was closed so that the city could install an underground reservoir. The reservoir project was completed in January of this year, while plans for the park improvements continued to evolve.

Under a plan that the council approved in October, the parks' two grass fields will be replaced with synthetic turf, four new field lights will be installed to allow evening play, and a new bathroom and scorekeeper booth will be built. There will also be a new bike path from El Camino Park to the downtown Caltrain station, an expanded parking lot and new benches.

The council had previously considered including a dog exercise area in the park's design, but that plan was scrapped because of the park's proximity to the San Francisquito Creek, which includes endangered steelhead trout. Even with the emission, the project's total budget is now estimated at about $5.7 million, roughly $3 million higher than what the council expected to spend in April 2012, when it signed off on an earlier design.

The council approved two contracts with Goodland Landscape Construction, Inc., including a $4.4 million contract for construction and an up to $444,151 contract for "additional but unforeseen work" that may develop during the project. The council also approved a $319,880 contract with NOVA Partners for construction management.

The city received five bids for the project, with prices ranging from $4.4 million to $5.3 million. All bids were higher than the city's cost estimate of $4.23 million. A report from the Public Works Department notes that the range of the bids is "indicative of a changing economic climate where many recent project starts both locally and regionally are driving up construction prices."

The council signed off on the contracts on its consent calendar without any discussion or dissent. The staff report states that construction on El Camino Park is expected to begin in January 2015 and to be completed in October.

Related content:

Council approves El Camino Park makeover

Palo Alto prepares to move forward with new El Camino Park fields

What is community worth to you?
Support local journalism.


1 person likes this
Posted by artificial
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Dec 24, 2014 at 12:08 pm

Artificial turf? Maybe Senator Hill will save us
Web Link

"Senator Jerry Hill, prompted by increasing concerns that artificial turf fields made with crumbs of rubber from recycled tires may be linked to serious illnesses in children, Wednesday introduced legislation that would prohibit the installation of these surfaces in schools and parks in California while the state conducts a study to determine possible health risks."

3 people like this
Posted by Jerry99
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 24, 2014 at 1:39 pm

What a waste of money. Put it on a ballot. Residents don't want it and we are tired of doing things for entertainment that are not needed or wanted. The money is really burning a hole in City Council's pocket. Instead of doing that get rid of some of the overpriced Planning staff and worry about Public Safety and Parking in downtown Palo Alto, which resident really want and need.

"To pay for these amenities, the city plans to tap into $1.6 million from the Utility Department's Water Fund, use $2.2 million in park-development fees for the project and draw about $510,000 from the Infrastructure Reserve. A new report from the Public Works Department indicates that staff will be requesting more funding to cover the gap."

1 person likes this
Posted by Kay
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 24, 2014 at 1:58 pm

Wow, almost 1 million over budget since April 2012. Why such a long delay? When the money was approved in 2012, couldn't the bids have gone out then? It does seem expensive for a park, what is the cot compared to other City Parks/ Will kids soccer teams' have the opportunity to book these fields? If Planning Dept. has more time on their hands, please redo Seale Park, put in more swings, update equipment. Also, reconfigure pipes under Oregon Expressway so it doesn't flood every medium rain we get.

2 people like this
Posted by Agenda
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 24, 2014 at 4:34 pm

Given the cities history with projects, homer avenue tunnel, Mitchell park library etc, how long past the original completion date and how much over budget will the project be completed at?

1 person likes this
Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 24, 2014 at 5:07 pm

I also question the artificial turf - there have been enough exposes to warrant thinking first (before any local lawyer parents sue). Of course it will be us taxpayers who have to pay out the awards. A recent episode of 20/20 or 60 Minutes or similar had parents forbidding their small children to play on such material, and parents of former high school and college athletes complaining/suing for health reasons. At this time, there must be a very pressuring salesforce for artificial turf for that to be installed considering the claimed negative health effects on kids/athletes. I realize we are in a drought, but even so careful consideration would be smart.

3 people like this
Posted by NeedMoreFields
a resident of Palo Verde School
on Dec 24, 2014 at 5:21 pm

1. not everyone thinks this is a waste of money; I for one favor it.
2. there is a new version of artificial turf that uses ground coconut shell, corn husk and cork as the filler instead of asphalt. Canada College and Skyline College have it on their new soccer fields. Perhaps that could be investigated.

1 person likes this
Posted by Bob
a resident of Community Center
on Dec 24, 2014 at 5:29 pm

I remember an early discussion of this underground water project that the ground belongs to Stanford U, and Stanford U has first rights to the water supply in case of an emergency.Is this true? Given those two previously stated 'givens', how much $$$ is Stanford contributing to this? I asked this question once, and the Weekly deleted my query.

3 people like this
Posted by Phil
a resident of Professorville
on Dec 24, 2014 at 8:54 pm

Why not put an underground parking garage at the site the way Stanford has at two of its athletic fields, (Campus Drive - Wilbur Drive - Bowdin Lane - Arguello Way and
Web Link

The City still has a great portion of $40 million available for such projects.
Web Link

That would solve some of the parking problem. Then the City could place some rain water collecting cisterns to to use to water the grass fields during dry season.
Web Link

4 people like this
Posted by Carol
a resident of another community
on Dec 24, 2014 at 9:20 pm

If this is near El Camino Real, it will come in handy. When the left lane in each direction is reserved only for buses and other El Camino traffic comes to a stop, you all can just hang out at local parks. Nice planning Palo Alto.

1 person likes this
Posted by Parking, Parking
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Dec 24, 2014 at 10:06 pm

Phil's idea to use the park for parking is absolutely brilliant -- and just the kind of common sense thinking we need.

And I echo the question of who owns the water rights? US or Stanford?

1 person likes this
Posted by Daniel
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Dec 25, 2014 at 4:04 pm

$5M on fixing the park, $10M on the 101 ridiculous over-pass ... there is money for the so much needed - by 10 people in the city - projects. When it comes to the animal rescue and clinic on Bayshore there is always a shortfall, it is always underfunded, downsized, hanging by a thread. That facility serves thousands and thousands in PA and nearby cities.
Enough ... the new council has to come to its senses.

Like this comment
Posted by CitizensVotedForIt
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 25, 2014 at 7:25 pm

Lots of information can be found with very little effort and a few simple searches. First, try "palo alto El Camino Reservoir Project" and you get this link: Web Link

A little reading leads you to this link: Web Link which is the description and results of Measure N from 2007 which said: Should an area under El Camino Park be used for an underground water storage reservoir and well to supply the City of Palo Alto with water during an emergency, the existing pump station replaced with modern equipment in its same location, and all existing park facilities fully restored upon completion of construction?

The results of the vote OF THE CITIZENS OF PALO ALTO was 12,478 / 91.84% Yes votes ...... 1,109 / 8.16% No votes

So don't blame this on some past City Council.
(but, no, most posters on these forums would rather make assumptions and blame someone else).

Like this comment
Posted by video
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 25, 2014 at 7:41 pm

Here is a nice video made by the Palo Alto Youth Video club.
Web Link

3 people like this
Posted by Phil
a resident of Professorville
on Dec 25, 2014 at 11:49 pm

In May City Manager James Keene eliminated 7 street sweeping positions and contracted out the service to a private company in order to save the city $649,000 annually. Now 7 months later, in December, City Manager James Keene has obtained a raise for himself and the top 200 managers. Keene's salary will go from $262,000 a year to about $275,000 a year.

I don't know if anyone else has noticed but the street sweepers have not been doing a good job since the city hired a private company, plus, the trucks they use sound like jet engines that are about to break a part.

That's one way to give yourself a raise, eliminate some jobs and take their money for yourself.

Like this comment
Posted by Grumpy
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Dec 26, 2014 at 10:37 am

Phil, yes but you're forgetting about the "extra pay" our highly paid officials get even though they're paid more than comparable positions in surrounding communities.

I've asked repeatedly how much "extra pay" is and I've never gotten or found answers.

I'm tired of hearing them congratulate themselves for bringing projects years late and millions of dollars over budget. Yea, give them raises for a noisy new library, for approving under-parked offices and then wanting to build new under-used garages, etc. etc.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

All your news. All in one place. Every day.

After 39 years of cakes and pastries, Palo Alto institution Prolific Oven to close
By Elena Kadvany | 59 comments | 18,284 views

Local Transit to the Rescue?
By Sherry Listgarten | 20 comments | 2,743 views

The Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) Process Explained
By Steve Levy | 15 comments | 1,720 views

"You Gotta Have Balls [to do counseling] . . .
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 1,536 views

Eating Green on the Green – August 25
By Laura Stec | 0 comments | 571 views


Register now!

‚ÄčOn Friday, October 11, join us at the Palo Alto Baylands for a 5K walk, 5K run, 10K run or half marathon! All proceeds benefit local nonprofits serving children and families.

More Info